Union slams Aer Lingus sale plan

Impact, the largest trade union representative of staff at Aer Lingus, has written to Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe warning that assurances about job security in the event of the airline being sold are “worthless”.

The union also said that if IAG succeeds in its attempts to buy Aer Lingus, the move will result in higher air fares for consumers and would damage economic recovery, saying this has been the typical trend with previous airline mergers and takeovers.

In its letter, dated yesterday, IMPACT’s national secretary, Matt Staunton, said: “It is our considered view that a successful bid and subsequent merging of the airlines will result in higher consumer costs, which would be tremendously damaging to our fragile economic recovery.”

Mr Staunton said that delegates at last week’s IMPACT conference in Galway had considered the refusal of Aer Lingus to respond to a request for assurances, on a range of items, in the event of a takeover by IAG.

Mr Staunton said: “The conclusion of our conference delegates is that any assurances you have received, particularly in relation to job security, are worthless.

“The union has sought assurances on job security for existing staff, and a commitment that direct employment would be the preferred model in the event of a change of ownership. In the absence of any kind of response, our conference delegates could draw no other conclusion last week.”

He added that delegates at the conference last week had made reference to the announcement in December 2012, by the previous transport minister Leo Varadkar, that the Government opposed a bid for the airline at that time because it did not satisfy concerns about connectivity, competitiveness or employment for Ireland.

“Most delegates at my conference made the point that the same concerns remain about this bid, so what, if anything, has changed?” he said.

The Government confirmed, at the weekend, it had received the report by an expert group advising it on the possible sale of its Aer Lingus stake, paving the way for a long-delayed decision, but stressed that the issue would not be on today’s cabinet meeting agenda; adding that it hoped to bring the overall issue to conclusion in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg yesterday reported that the European Commission has not raised any initial major objections to pledges aimed at allowing the Government sell its stake in Aer Lingus. While a formal EU review wouldn’t take place until IAG filed a full offer, the government wants to ensure guarantees won’t give rise to anti-trust issues, Bloomberg said.

Additional reporting by Bloomberg


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